Anthony Elanga has been one of the early beneficiaries of Ralf Rangnick’s brief time in charge of Manchester United, having featured in both games under the German coach so far.
Elanga made his senior United debut under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in May of this year, making two Premier League appearances and scoring his maiden first-team goal.
However, the young Swede, despite getting on the bench in the first three Champions League games of this season, only played once more – in the Carabao Cup – under Solskjaer before Rangnick took over. Having not been included in a Premier League matchday squad all season, he was given a chance off the bench against Crystal Palace and then started against Young Boys.
Elanga was United’s Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year in 2020 and impressed for a skeletal first-team squad in pre-season. He has also scored regularly this season for United’s junior sides when he hasn’t been involved in the senior setup.
Fans will be expecting to see more and more of Elanga, who won’t turn 20 until April, with Rangnick particularly noted for his development of young talent – that was particularly apparent during his days overseeing Red Bull’s football operations in Salzburg and Leipzig.
There has already been a hint that Elanga is set for an extended run of consistent first-team chances. Sweden coach Janne Andersson wanted to name the youngster in a squad for a training camp and friendly next month but United denied the request from the Swedish federation.
The domestic season in Sweden runs from April to December. So while January is not an official FIFA international window, it is an opportunity for the national team bosses to look at players.
The majority of those called up for January are based domestically, with a handful at clubs in other Scandinavian countries. Andersson would have hoped that with Elanga, who has only been capped up to Under-21 level so far, being a fringe player, United might have released him for duty.
“We would have liked to have had Anthony on the January tour,” Andersson confirmed. At the same time, it is very funny that he has started to get playing time at Manchester United. We will continue to follow Anthony closely in the future.”
But the Old Trafford club has refused, suggesting there is a plan from Rangnick to work closely with him and keep playing him in the coming weeks and months.